While Grand Island parks are open, playground equipment, shelters and other areas where people would congregate are now closed off to the public because of the precautions being taken by authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, according to Todd McCoy, superintendent of the Grand Island Parks and Recreation Department.

McCoy said city employees on Tuesday begin putting up yellow caution tape around city parks’ playground equipment, baseball courts, picnic shelters and other areas in city parks where people congregate.

“We are trying to discourage people from using those areas because they are high touch areas that get big crowds and that type of thing,” he said. “We are trying to do our part to keep people safe and healthy.”

McCoy said that later this week they will begin to put up signs in city parks and recreational areas to inform the public that playgrounds are closed because the city is not able to keep those areas properly sanitized.

“The parks are open and the trails are open, but please follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations for social distancing (no less than six feet separation from other people) and give people a little room.”

McCoy said other communities are doing the same thing, along with Nebraska State Parks and recreational areas.

The Nebraska Game & Parks Commission has canceled all group events and programs through May 31, or until further notice.

◦Nebraska State Parks and recreation areas currently remain open for day use, camping, fishing and recreation. Game and Parks will continue to keep open state park and recreation areas grounds and trails, which provide adequate room for proper physical distancing for the health and safety of the public. State recreation areas also offer hiking and fishing opportunities while maintaining a 6-foot distance between healthy guests. Park permits can be purchased online.

◦NGPC is taking proactive measures to protect customers and employees by using CDC-approved cleaning supplies and frequently disinfecting areas regularly visited by the public.

◦State park and recreation area playgrounds and play structures are closed as of March 30 until further notice. The closures are in keeping with national recommendations from the CDC, which encourages maintaining physical distance and limiting in-person social interactions.

Prior to putting up the caution tape in city parks, McCoy said the Fieldhouse at Fonner Park, along with Jackrabbit Run Golf Course and the Heartland Shooting Park were already closed because of health concerns involving COVID-19.

“We have canceled all of our reservations, such as picnic, baseball, softball and soccer reservations through April,” McCoy said.

With spring now here, conditions have been ideal for venturing outdoors to enjoy to get some sun and exercise. While city park and recreational facilities are off-limits, the city’s 15 miles of public trails are open, along with its 500 acres of park spaces for people to use within the CDC guidance for social distancing.

“We encourage people to get out and use these trails and spaces to get outdoors and get some fresh air, but use caution and follow the CDC recommendations,” McCoy said. “It is a good way to get outdoors. Being outdoors in those spaces can be therapeutic. We are going to do our best to keep those areas open to the public.”

That is especially important as people are being encouraged to stay at home to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

McCoy said park maintenance will continue as scheduled and as spring progresses, there will be flower planting from the city’s nursery throughout the community’s parks.

Take precautions recommended by the CDC, including social distancing even in outdoors spaces. Any person who is sick, has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or has been exposed to sick individuals, should remain at home.

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